PERTH, Australia — Australia’s traditionally strong Olympic field hockey teams are having trouble playing competitive matches ahead of the Tokyo Games, not unlike dozens of other international sports facing continuing delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Australian men and women’s teams were set to resume their FIH Pro League campaigns this month, but all matches involving Australia, China and New Zealand have been put on hold because of international travel restrictions due to the pandemic.
It means the upcoming doubleheaders between Australia and New Zealand that were scheduled for April 24 and 25 in Perth will not go ahead.
Both Australian teams were scheduled to travel to Europe for matches against Spain, the Netherlands, and Germany in May, but those games have also been postponed.
The delayed Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to begin July 23. Australian women’s teams have won three Olympic golds, the men’s team one and both sides have had multiple podium wins at the Olympics.
But the men’s Kookaburras and women’s Hockeyroos have not played an international match since March 7 of last year.
“The Kookaburras and Hockeyroos have shown phenomenal resilience and adaptability in continuing their preparations for Tokyo without any international matches in over a year,” Hockey Australia chief executive Matt Favier said Thursday. “This lead-up to an Olympics is unprecedented and it is too much of a risk sending teams to Europe this far out from the Games.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and the possibilities of playing any internationals knowing how critical they are for our national teams. We are hopeful they will have the opportunity to play on home soil again before they head to Tokyo in July.”
Argentina won the men’s gold field hockey medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and Britain took the women’s gold.